Love and Addiction Part II

Throughout my childhood I would often fantasize of meeting the one, of riding off into the sunset with my love, my savior. I recall once I started dating someone and quickly and easily imagining the rest of our lives together. This started for me at a very young age and continued even after my divorce. In my last post I mentioned that I met my husband shortly after ending my relationship with my high school sweetheart and having a baby. I met him exactly nine months later. I was 19, he was 22 and I was in heaven. He had a girlfriend but that didn’t matter to me. He was giving me everything I needed. Time, attention, sex, and the big one… love.

Clearly, I didn’t have the best example of love or relationships growing up. So, I wasn’t that hard to please, I didn’t require that much. All I needed was a body who loved me and would be willing to jump through the hurdles I would intricately set up for them to prove it. God bless their souls.

I was going to write here about my marriage, but I wrote about that in my first blog post. It was beautiful at times and incredibly sad other times. The important thing is that the entire time I knew something wasn’t right, I knew there was something missing for both of us. The thing is I didn’t listen to that voice. Instead I was so desperate to be loved, so desperate to be chosen and to have someone I can call my own and rely on, no matter what the cost. At the time I had all the time in the world, the rest of my life was not even a thought in my mind, until I didn’t. After my separation, I realized the gift of being alone. Of course, I had to fight all the voices and fears that came up around it. It was an intense training and reprogramming.

Again, the addiction is real. Though it may look different for all of us, at its core it’s the same. Inside this brilliantly crafted patriarchal structure, we are conditioned as women to believe we need a man from very young. Marriage, kids the whole shebang, without it, what purpose do we serve? This is the narrative given to us from very young. So, in hindsight, it wasn’t a surprise that I was completely complicit to settle in a marriage that in the deepest sense left me bereft and blind to other parts of me that wanted to come alive and my authentic-self wanted to grow and nurture.

Point being I was completely willing to sacrifice my life, my life’s purpose and everything that called to my deepest self, to have someone I can always have in my corner. To avoid having to deal with the fear of being alone, I was willing to give up on myself and everything my spirit was calling for. After I left, I realized this was the deepest level of addiction I had ever faced in my life. There is nothing wrong with loving someone and being in a relationship, but when being in that relationship costs you your life, your true calling and God knows what else, that cost is way too high. We’ve got this life, and we owe it to ourselves to live it fully and not betray ourselves, even for the fear of being alone or not hurting anyone. Life is simply too short, and I know we all have plenty examples of that.

After this I began the journey of learning to love myself, independent of another. Again, I have not arrived anywhere, it is a continuous process. I still struggle with staying with myself when in a relationship and for that reason I’m hesitant to get involved as I know there are still many things for me to learn about myself and about being with others, especially intimately. Though be it as it may, we often can’t help the things and people who come into our lives and we’ve got to take it in and do the best that we can.

I recently met the most amazing man and unfortunately the timing wasn’t right. I had to struggle to not make this about me or my abandonment issues. I loved him deeply and it took a lot to make it not mean it was about me or that there was something wrong with me. A place I know we all usually go to as women. It is a continuous process, just like getting up every day and facing the days challenges. We are who we are alone or with another. First, we must be free to be ourselves, releasing the fear of not being accepted. Not playing into the games the patriarchal system has ingrained in us. What we bring to a relationship isn’t our worth, but our very being and that must have an alignment with our partner. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but there has to a sense of equality, freedom, nurturing, partnership and collaboration with one another. There are no concrete steps to a healthy relationship, but the first step is to work on having that healthy relationship with yourself and inside of that, you will know exactly what it is you want and not NEED.

Love and Addiction: are they one in the same?

Love and addiction, is there a difference between the two? Maybe it’s having grown up around addiction that everything starts to look like it. You sort of never want to want or need anything in your life, ever. But then, the things you do want, and need become almost obsessive. My mother was an addict and I was addicted to my mother on some level subconsciously, even addicted to the chaos, though I had no idea yet. I didn’t really want to leave after my mom left, I didn’t want to live the life I was living, but I didn’t want to leave my mother. I had to move from Long Island to Brooklyn. None of my friends knew anything, I had done a pretty good job at hiding what went on inside my house. I just told my friends we’re moving and that was that, pretty much cut all ties with everyone.

As I mentioned my siblings and I were separated, so I went to Brooklyn alone. It was a shock to say the least, Long Island to Brooklyn was a huge difference. In Long Island, I was in public school, I lived in a predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhood and that was my normal. The aunt I went to live with was a Catholic School teacher who went to church every single Sunday. Yeah, so she signed me up for Catholic school, talk about culture shock. The school was predominantly white, all girls and everyone there for the most part was a Brooklyn native, I was completely out of my element. I made a few friends, but they might as well have been from another planet. I didn’t realize how completely isolated I was in my little chaotic world. I hadn’t even kissed a boy and I was in 9th grade! Pretty much every girl I met was already in love and definitely not a virgin. Nevertheless, I used my intuition (which I had become damn good at) and found one or two girls that I felt I could connect with on some level, though they too were way more experienced than I, as far as boys were concerned. So, I was fully thrusted into a world I had to quickly adapt to and at least that I was good at, survival of the fittest.

Let me make a long story short. Within 6 months, I was smoking weed, hanging out till wee hours of the night, drinking and dating. I was socializing for the first time and had a freedom unlike I had ever experienced. I was able to do what I wanted to do, and having an aunt who worked in NYC and had never had children of her own, made that very easy for me. The times that she didn’t, I would just sneak out. I dated a few guys and kissed and fondled here and there and it was intoxicating. It was unlike anything I had ever felt, needed. To be honest, it was the first time I had ever really felt wanted. I don’t come from a family of huggers and we didn’t say I love you often, if at all, so I was in complete bliss when I was with a guy. That people, became my drug. Now don’t get me wrong, it felt so good, but I wasn’t interested in feeling that with multiple men, I believed at the time this is what could possibly save me, love. And so, my search began, for my drug.

Now let’s keep in mind I was 14 at the time, but I had already begun to drown in romantic movies and the notion that romantic love saves all. Pretty Woman literally had come out that year, not take anything away from the movie, but you get my drift, fantasy land. So, I had begun the search. I know it’s crazy, but low and behold, I found him. Shortly after my 15th birthday, I saw him from across the street, he held my gaze and he came over and well that was it. I spent the next 5 years with this boy. I lost my virginity to him, I tried drugs with him, I had a lot of “firsts” with him. More importantly, I made him my world, my entire world. By the age of 16 and a half, I left my aunts house and moved in with him. I was still going to school thankfully, he wasn’t, and I didn’t care. This boy could do no wrong, even when I knew damn well he had flirted and maybe kissed other girls here and there, there was no way I was letting this go. He would have to either kill me or do something reprehensible for me to walk away. Of course, he did the latter, it was a toxic relationship to say the least. He had no drive, wasn’t seeking an education and was even selling drugs for a good part of our relationship and none of it mattered. Like addiction, no matter how bad it hurts us, letting go is even worse. I found out I was pregnant in my senior year. We decided to keep it because after all, isn’t that part of the fairy tale? He gave me this song and dance about needing to get out of the hood we lived in to get his shit together for us and for the baby and I believed him. I gave him my full support. He moved to Miami with his sister in pursuit of his GED, while I stayed in Brooklyn living with his mother and working. I was still in communication with my family and at this point my mother was back, but in and out of my life. This is the time I mentioned earlier where I realized just how much I wanted my mother. He came back, sans GED of course, and I was 9 months pregnant at the time. We had a baby shower and I was just waiting to go into labor. I knew something was off upon his return, he was different and not in the way I would have expected.

One evening he had received a call from his sister in Miami and he took the call in another room as he often did. Something told me to check up on him and well I found him whispering sweet nothings into the phone that one would not or should not be saying to their sibling. I confronted him, I lost my shit and he admitted everything. He had met someone in Miami and had fallen in love and was planning on going back. I was completely and utterly devastated, I wanted to die. I fell asleep crying out for my mother that night. I stayed with a friend for a few days and ended up coming back on his insistence and went into labor within a few days. I was terrified, and it was just him and I, he was supposed to be the only person I would ever need, and he now felt like a stranger. The baby was breech, and I ended up having a Cesarean section. It was dramatic and euphoric and in that moment, I was full of love and gratitude and hope. We had a son and he was beautiful and healthy thankfully.

After my stay in the hospital, we went back home to his mother’s apartment. My mom came and stayed with me for a week while I healed from the Cesarean. Maybe it was that, maybe having my mom around gave me strength, my new drug was back. Whatever it was, two weeks after my son was born, I called my aunt and asked her if the baby and I could go back to live with her and she said yes. I didn’t say anything, I knew he was going out on Saturday and while he was out, my family come over and helped me pack our things. He walked in as we were loading up the car. I don’t know how I got to that place so fast, but I was done in every single sense of the word. He had broken me in a way that I could never go back to what we had. I remember thinking I must be cold and heartless and maybe on some level at that time I was. Or maybe it was a survival instinct. I knew this man wasn’t going to change overnight and I now had another life to consider and our future. I may have been broken, but I was far from out. More importantly, I was not willing to let another person fuck me over in every sense of the word again.

I remember how beyond disbelief he was, where was the girl who chased him, forgave him time and time again and adored him. The girl who believed he was everything. She was gone, and we were done, and I was clear. Something shifted, maybe he showed me something that was all too familiar, abandonment, feeling unloved and not valued, and I was unwilling to feel that again. But as with most addictions, we always have the possibility of relapse and relapse I did. He may have killed the fact that he was the one, but he sure didn’t kill the fantasy that somewhere out there, there was someone who would give me everything I’ve never had and so the search went on. Within 8 months I found him, my new drug, my knight and shining armor, everything my ex was not. Employed, living on his own, a sense of maturity and even had a similar upbringing, a fellow survivor. Unfortunately, he had a girlfriend at the time, but that didn’t stop us. In my mind, the chaos felt right, nothing good comes easy right? In fact, this one my friends, I ended up marrying… Ahh that feeling when you get your fix, the high, though we all know, addiction usually doesn’t end well.

To be continued…